Just ask Mountlake Terrace head track and field coach Russ Vincent.
His Hawks boys track and field team had never hoisted a district championship trophy. After Friday night, that was no longer the case. Mountlake Terrace used its depth, as well as a strong run in 1,600 relay -- the final event of the district meet -- to earn its first-ever district title at Quil Ceda Stadium.
"We had never won a district title," Vincent said. "That's a long time. ? We knew we had a great chance and everyone came through. It's the most balanced team I've ever coached in 34 years."
The Hawks came into Friday in fourth place after Wednesday's district finals. Vincent wasn't too worried, however, because he knew Mountlake Terrace's best was yet to come.
"Wednesday is never our strong day," Vincent said. "We just had to keep working. The kids really stepped up."
The top three finishers in each event qualified for next week's 3A Track and Field Championships that start Thursday at Mt. Tahoma High School in Tacoma.
Mountlake Terrace was victorious in the 400 relay to add to its point total early Friday afternoon. Quinnell Mason then barely clinched the third spot to state in the 400, finishing in 51.1 seconds, .07 ahead of Stanwood's Alexander Bentz.
Hawks captain Duane Dahl had a strong meet, finishing second in the 300 hurdles and anchoring Mountlake Terrace's 1,600 relay, which finished third -- giving it just enough points to hold off second-place Shorewood 107 feet, 94 inches.
"Almost every track meet comes down to this race," Dahl said. "I knew I'd have to give it my all. I was terribly nervous."
Dahl, Mason, Yohans Tewolde and Josh Kim were the team that sealed the Mountlake Terrace victory in the relay -- and the district meet -- with a time of 3:28.46. Shorecrest (3:24.56) won the event, followed by Marysville Getchell (3:28.14) and Terrace.
While the final run was the clincher, Vincent said it was Mountlake Terrace's depth that allowed it to win the district title. Senior Gifton Okoronkwo won the triple jump with a mark of 44-11. The Hawks' Tye Esparza also clinched a trip to state in the triple jump finishing third (43 feet).
The Hawks had three athletes score points in the javelin, led by Beau Kennedy, who won the event with a throw of 169-3.
Shorecrest's Logan Coleman (1:53.20) set a new meet record in the 800 run. Right behind him was Mountlake Terrace's Tewolde in second.
"It just goes on and on down the line," Vincent said. "Look at Jack Pearce and his (second-place) finish in the 3,200. Everyone did well."
Another highlight for the Hawks was Bryan Wyss, who was the lone competitor in the mixed javelin throw wheel chair event. He won and advanced to state with a toss of 17-3.
Vincent said that there might not be anyone on the Mountlake Terrace track team who enjoys meets more than Wyss, who has cerebral palsy.
"If you could see the joy on his face when he competes, it might just be the greatest thing I've seen," Vincent said. "It's just pure joy."
The Hawks' coach was sure the team would celebrate the win, possibly with a stop at a well-known fast food restaurant on the return trip to Mountlake Terrace. But, he said, the Mountlake Terrace team will quickly have to refocus on next week's state meet and turning in another strong all-around performance.
"We'll definitely celebrate, no doubt about it. We may stop at McDonalds on the way home," Vincent said. "But then we'll get back to work. We'll set goals for next weekend and see what we can do. I think we can do very well."
At Quil Ceda Stadium
Team Scores: 1. Mountlake Terrace 107, 2. Shorewood 94, 3. Shorecrest 84, 4. Glacier Peak 63, 5. Stanwood 62, 6. Oak Harbor 61, 7. Marysville Getchell 60, 8. Marysville Pilchuck 55, 9. Meadowdale 44, 10. Ferndale 31.
110 hurdles--1. Logan Coleman (GP) 15.84, 2. Aaron Kelly (SC) 16.16, 3. Chris Grant (MD) 16.46; 100--1. David Fan (SW) 10.99, 2. Margaryonta Kilcup (MD) 11.19, 3. Austin Joyner (MP) 11.25; 400 relay--1. Mountlake Terrace 42.85, 2. Marysville Pilchuck 43.04, 3. 3. Shorecrest 44.10; 400--1. Keegan Lockler (SC) 50.13, 2. Eugene Marcus (MG) 50.24, 3. Quinnell Mason (MT) 51.10; 300 hurdles--1. Logan Coleman (GP) 40.78, 2. Duane Dahl (MT) 41.30, 3. Alec Albrecht (GP) 41.57; 800--1. Carter Osborne (SC) 1:53.20*, 2. Yohans Tewolde (MT) 1:57.53, 3. Malachi Dunbar (GP) 1:57.62; 200--1. Will McNamara (SC) 22.46, 2. Deion Stell (MP) 22.55, 3. Chris Namba (SW) 22.71; 3,200--1. John Rodeheffer (OH) 9:33.08, 2. Jack Pearce (MT) 9:41.85, 3. Keenan Stephens (SW) 9:43.14; 1,600 relay--1. Shorecrest 3:24.56, 2. Marysville Getchell 3:28.14, 3. Mountlake Terrace 3:28.46; Triple jump--1. Gifton Okoronkwo (MT) 44-11, 2. Daryl Derbecker (GP) 43-9, 3. Tye Esparza (T) 43-0; Discus--1. Shane Stockton (F) 141-8, 2. Corbin Ferry (MP) 138-1, 3. Alfredo Diaz-Rodriguez (MG) 136-1; Javelin--1. Beau Kennedy (MT) 169-3, 2. Arious "Taz" Frazier (SW) 166-7, 3. Joe Dexter (SC) 163-3; mixed javelin throw wheel chair--1. Bryan Wyss (MT) 17-3.
*denotes 3A District 1 meet record
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